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Annual Awards

The North Carolina Community Health Center Association Awards Program was initiated in 2002, and over the years has paid tribute to many outstanding leaders from North Carolina’s community health centers and partners.

Watch a video recording of the awards at the 2021 Virtual Primary Care Conference below.

A woman standing next to a table with flowers


In 2003, the North Carolina Community Health Center Association (NCCHCA), celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary. To commemorate this important milestone, NCCHCA chose to recognize its migrant health legacy through the creation of the annual Steve Shore Community Catalyst Award. Steve Shore was the second Executive Director of NCCHCA, serving in the position for eleven years from 1987 to 1998. It was under his leadership that NCCHCA initiated several important migrant health activities, including the first East Coast Migrant Stream Forum. As a tribute to Steve Shore and his commitment to improving the health and well-being of farmworkers, NCCHCA honors the legacies of others who share this same vision through the Steve Shore Community Catalyst Award. Each year, through a nomination and selection process, NCCHCA identifies an individual or one organization involved in farmworker health, whose work has incited positive change in the health and wellness of farmworkers and demonstrates


Works to identify and raise awareness in the community about the health and lives of farmworkers and their families


Promotes and advocates for policy and practices that improve the health and access to health care for farmworkers and their families.


Leads and influences issues affecting the health of farmworkers and their families and inspires excellence in others


Partners with other advocates and agencies in the community on initiatives that aim to enhance the health and lives of farmworkers and their families

In 2019, the Steve Shore Community Catalyst award went to

Karin Hoffman

Director of Migrant and Hispanic Outreach of Rural
Medical Services in Parrottsville, Tennessee

Karin directs an outreach program which has existed in Eastern TN for over 25 years and each summer serves migratory tomato workers from Florida and Georgia as well as serves the substantial population of seasonal families working in tobacco and tomatoes. She joined the program nine years ago after being a Peace Corps volunteer.

Karin has been especially effective in creating partnerships both within her organization and with outside partners which promote innovation within her program. She oversees a promotor program which promotes women’s and prenatal health. She partners strongly with Migrant Head Start and the Department of Social

Services on screenings for migrant children as well as coordination of Medicaid enrollment. She regularly hosts student interns from East Tennessee State University and partners with researchers there on reducing pesticide exposure, musculoskeletal stress, and heat stress for tomato workers in the fields. Other collaborations include churches, the local Substance Abuse Coalition, and the National Center for Farmworker Health Call for Health program which she uses to fund emergency dental care and surgery.

As Karin’s co-workers say about her, “Karin has strong and natural leadership qualities. She is the kind of person who always advocates for the patient.”


Order of the Longleaf Pine

Since 1963, North Carolina’s governors have reserved their highest honor, The Order of the Long Leaf Pine award, for persons who have made significant contributions to the state and their communities through their exemplary service and exceptional accomplishments.

Penny Washington has a long history of service to North Carolina in the area of public health. From 1988-1996  she worked at the state’s Office of Rural Health, from 1996-1998 she was the Chief Operating Officer of Advance Community Health, and for the last twenty three years she has led that same organization, from 1998-2021 as CEO. In her time at its helm, Advance Community Health has grown in both number of healthcare delivery sites and patients served, now serving over 18,000 North Carolinians.

Staff who have worked with her for many years say things like “She’s a visionary — she cares about the community that she provides the services for.”  She “never hesitates to speak up when she sees an issue that affected patients or her community. You can always count on her to be fully present and engaged.”

Other CEOs in the health center world comment on her dedication to the mission and the people she serves, and that she pushes others to be in it for the patient, the community, and the agency. They note that she is foundational in the NC Community Health Center movement, and that a compliment from Penny is hard-won and deeply meaningful.

Community Health Center Advocate Award

Dr. Shannon Dowler is the CMO for North Carolina Medicaid. However, for most of 2020 she was our key contact at NC DHHS for everything COVID. She hosted weekly fire side chats dedicated to supporting Community Health Center CEOs navigate COVID developments.

Behind the scenes, she and her team have constantly advocated for CHCs as trusted community partners, as great deliverers of COVID vaccines, and as likely recipients of equity doses when those were needed as well. We know that it wasn’t just Dr. Dowler—that her team, including Dr. Abby DeVries—is also constantly working behind the scenes on our behalf. We want to recognize the commitment Dr. Dowler had to not only CHCs and our patients, but the whole state, as she spent a year of 12 hour days sorting out the best way to tackle this pandemic in North Carolina.

Health Center CEO Impact Award

Penny Washington has been the CEO of Advance CHC for 24 years and has been at the organization for 26. An avid University of Michigan fan, Penny received both her undergraduate and graduate degrees from the maize and yellow school in Ann Arbor, and she knew early on that she wanted to go into the administrative side of health care, because a neighborhood mentor who was a doctor told her he wanted to make more impact—through administration.

NCCHCA Community Health Center Advocacy Award

We are thankful that we had the team at McGuire Woods to advocate on behalf of health centers at the NCGA. Harry Kaplan and Jeff Barnhart ensured that North Carolina community health centers would secure financial support from the state legislature to respond to COVID-19.

Not only that, but when lawmakers passed additional COVID-19 relief legislation, they worked with Harry & Jeff to provide flexibility for allowable expenses and to increase the total financial support to health centers—not once, but twice—from $5 million to nearly $12.5 million. We recognize Harry and Jeff for this major accomplishment and all the hard work, late nights, and long hours that went into securing this support for North Carolina’s community health centers.

NCCHCA Early Actor Award

Early in the pandemic, when NCCHCA would gather CHCs together an problem solve, a staff member from Blue Ridge would always have an answer. They were often a little ahead of everyone else when it came to their COVID-19 response. Blue Ridge was able to administer 4,000 vaccines before NCCHCA even had a vaccine contract. Throughout the pandemic, the team at Blue Ridge has demonstrated to all of us what it means to be community first.

NCCHCA Early Actor Award

Piedmont Health rose to the challenge of providing COVID-19 testing to the hard hit areas in their community. They partnered with the National Guard to support testing efforts in around the processing plants. They were early registrants into the vaccine registry program, CVMS, as well as into their data entry improvement projects. They answered other CHCs’ questions about those when most of the rest of us were still figuring things out.  Brian Toomey has constantly advocated for CHCs’ inclusion as trusted community partners to participate in testing and in vaccination and all stages of response to the pandemic. The team at Piedmont consistently showed up for their patients and was willing to try new things for the sake of their community.

NCCHCA Innovative Partnership Award

The CommWell Health team has been working with Kanad Hospital of Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, since July 2020. The CEO of Kanad, Dr. Timothy Fincher, reached out the CommWell CEO Pamela Trip after reading her book “The Culture Cure: Transforming the Modern Healthcare”.

The book is described as “the essential DNA required to break free of the status quo environment that continues to dominate the American healthcare industry. It begins with the understanding of fundamental organizational core values that lay the foundation for excellence in culture, quality, finance, and governance …”

Kanad Hospital is a state-of-the-art facility with 600 employees on staff and is the largest and only Christian hospital located in the Middle East. The team at CommWell has been coaching and training the staff at Kanad through an eight-hour time difference on Zoom and conference calls.

NCCHCA Innovative Partnership Award

Carolyn Allison (CEO) and her team partnered with Novant for testing then focused on drive-through and mobile chronic care management. Charlotte CHC thought that if they could manage folks’ chronic conditions, which is what CHCs do really well all the time, and partner for testing, more needs could be met and people would be best prepared to handle any illnesses that came their way including COVID19. This innovative use of telehealth and at home monitoring devices is a great and sustainable innovative use of the technologies available post pandemic.

NCCHCA Outreach Award

Kintegra sent community health workers door to door to help with vaccine outreach. Their work reaching out to historically marginalized populations, was recognized at the state level. Kintegra’s vaccine coordinator, Reva Holland, has been a model of reporting timelines and information sharing with others.

NCCHCA Outreach Award

Goshen was able to host over 300 mobile COVID testing sites. In addition to their great partnerships with local schools, churches, Health Departments, and small businesses.

NCCHCA Diversity Equity and Inclusion Award

Rueben Blackwell’s advocacy at the state level for diversity and inclusion with vaccine access, benefited all CHC’s. He pushed decision makers to consider the effects of speed on historically marginalized populations. The team at OIC played a huge rule in outreach and persuasion of patients to get vaccines.


NCCHCA Diversity Equity and Inclusion Award

Rural Health Group advocated on behalf of marginalized populations getting their fair share of vaccine doses. They were an early advocate for a balance between the state and federal vaccine allocation. The team at Rural Health managed to reach historically marginalized population in a wide swath of North Carolina. Yvonne Long-Gee advocated for better equity in distribution, which benefited all health centers as vaccine supply increased.

NCCHCA Equity--Farmworkers Award

Greene County was able to COVID test thousands of people in their community. They partnered with farmers and farmworkers to help with better access to testing sites. Their farmworker outreach has also worked with farmers and farmworkers to support vaccination efforts.

NCCHCA Equity--Farmworkers Award

The Carolina Family team was a strong voice for coordination and support across providers, to work together in order to prevent duplication efforts, ensuring that farmworkers could receive vaccines. The team also had a strong farmworker outreach program to support this vulnerable community in getting COVID testing.

NCCHCA Public Health Advocate Award

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